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Baptist Church in Sri Lanka Celebrates 200 Years

We often start things without knowing how they are going to end. But God knows.
In 1812, a Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) missionary arrived in Sri Lanka (known as Ceylon then) and planted a church the next year.

Little did they know then that, 200 years on, it would be a thriving church and sending missionaries of its own.

Last October was Cinnamon Gardens Baptist Church’s 200th anniversary. Peter and Margaret Goodall represented BMS at a weekend of celebrations.

Peter Goodall was one of a succession of British ministers to pastor the church; he was senior minister from 1980 to 1988.

At the celebrations, which were also attended by Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist leaders, Goodall presented a plaque to the church from BMS and a greeting from general director, David Kerrigan. He was also invited to plant a cinnamon tree in the church grounds to mark the anniversary.

The church was started in 1813 by BMS missionary James Charter, who moved to Sri Lanka from Burma with his wife and four children.

His wife had been unwell while he had been doing evangelistic work for BMS in Burma, and he hoped that the conditions in Sri Lanka would be more congenial for her.

At first the church met in a warehouse and attracted English and European settlers on the island.

The church moved to its current building and location at Cinnamon Gardens in central Colombo in 1877.

Beginning as a church primarily attracting English speakers, today it now has an equally large Sinhalese and Tamil congregation.

During Peter Goodall’s time as minister there, the church responded to the needs of the poor around them by providing English lessons and computer training.

Today, the church helps those who have relatives at a nearby hospital by providing a place to spend the night or a gift toward paying for medicine.

Started by a missionary, the church in recent years has been able to give back to the mission field.

In 2010, one church member went to Bangladesh to serve with Sri Lankan mission agency, Global Impact.

In December 2013, the church sent another member to serve for two years on the Operation Mobilization ship, Logos Hope.

Chris Hall is the editor of BMS World Mission’s Engage magazine. A version of this news article first appeared on the BMS website and is used with permission. You can follow Chris on Twitter @chrishallnewb and BMS @BMSWorldMission.